Reading Length: 9 minutes
These lessons and tips are written similar to a letter format addressed to my younger self. I know that I’m still young now but it does feel like I’ve been through so many life changing experiences since then. So here are 20 lessons and tips to my younger self:
1. Find people who love you for you. Stop trying to fit in.
“Fake it till you make it” was the worst advice for you. You wanted to fit in so badly with your group of friends so, for years you tried to follow their lifestyle of partying, drinking and experimenting. But you didn’t enjoy those things at all. It wasn’t you. Try to find more like-minded and supportive people who love you for you. Don’t settle for less and don’t try to change yourself for others. The people who truly love and accept you will stay. Remember this quote:
2. Don’t chase after something you don’t love.
You competed in tennis competitions and even won a few of them. But deep down, you always knew you didn’t love the sport. It was your father’s dream. You were actually living the life he wanted, not yours. So admit this cold truth. Make the most out of your short time to do something you truly love. You will feel liberated to pursue something you truly love instead of living your parent’s dreams.
3. Stop trying to please others.
You always wanted to hear the words, “I’m proud of you” from your family. But their expectations were always high and there always seemed to be more you could do. There was never enough. Do something because you want to do it. Learn to say no. Realize that you should live your life on your own terms instead of trying to please others. Just because you love them, does not make you obligated to follow their demands and wishes. It’s your life.
4. Cut out the toxic friends.
There will always be negative people who try to put you down because they’re dissatisfied with their own life. That’s why they want to drag you down and stop you from growing. You need to recognize those type of people and just cut them out. Pull out the weeds. They are not worth your love, time and energy.
5. Failure and mistakes are the way to growth.
You will experience your fair share of failures and mistakes. And it will continue to come in the future. But that’s okay. Remember the time your mom received a call from your teacher revealing to her that you failed all your past exams? Remember when you practically ranked last place in class? If it wasn’t for those experiences, you wouldn’t have looked for a tutor and dedicated more effort to learning. So it’s okay to fail and make mistakes. It’s not the end of the world. A failure doesn’t make you a failure. Use those experiences as a lesson to learn and grow.
6. Everyday think of how you can help others.
Me, me, me. You tend to care too much about yourself. But you’re not alone on that. Most people are that way too. The good news is that you can change this mindset by intentionally thinking of what small acts of kindness you can do for others. Maybe leave a nice comment on someone’s post, send a gratitude email to a teacher, or do some extra chores for your parents. Do something that will make someone’s day no matter how small it is. You will realize that there is more happiness in giving without any expectations of receiving.
7. Stop the endless self judgment. No one really cares.
Again, we all tend to care too much about ourselves. This is a concept known as the “Spotlight Effect.” We worry about our actions, thoughts, appearance, behavior etc…In reality, everyone is on the same boat as you and no one really cares about what you’re doing. Sure, they may pass some comments and remarks at you. But after that, they’re back to thinking about themselves. It’s quite freeing when you realize this truth. You can literally do anything you want!
8. Less screen time. More family time.
You spend more time looking at a screen than at your family. Put down that phone or laptop and actually be present with your family. Whatever show or video you’re watching cannot be more important than your loved ones. Reserve quality time with your family where you intentionally do not touch technology.
9. Relationships are hard.
You will try out some relationships but you’ll find out that it’s seriously hard to make it work. It can get messy, complicated and frustrating. You’re still not mature and you don’t really know yourself yet. It’s almost guaranteed your heart will get broken a few times but it’s all part of the learning experience. Learn to let go and accept the pain. That pain isn’t necessarily bad because it can help make you become a better and stronger person.
10. Stop the couch potato habits.
Stop binge watching shows on Netflix and eating junk food as your daily hobby. Those behaviors are contributing to your low energy and weight gain. Let go of those bag of chips and start taking better care of your body. Get the basic foundations of health such as enough exercise, sleep, fluids and healthy diet of fruits and vegetables. You will feel a dramatic difference in your energy and body.
11. Listen to audiobooks on full speed if you’re “busy.“
“I just don’t have time for reading.” It’s not that you don’t have time for reading. It’s that you choose not to read. That was actually just an excuse you constantly made to put off reading. But there’s always a way. You can put audiobooks on 1.75 or 2X speed to save time while learning. You can practically listen to dozens of books every month while doing the chores, driving, exercising, stretching and more. Become a life long learner and you will see the world differently.
12. Don’t flake. Step out of your comfort zone.
“Sorry, I can’t make it because…” That was another excuse you made to any invites you received. Don’t let your fear and social anxiety stop you from attending the big events that will happen only once in your life and don’t skip invitations to hang out with others. Make it a weekly habit to step out of your comfort zone. It will be terrifying but you will feel so much more confident afterwards.
13. Learn skills that school doesn’t teach.
Don’t just rely on school itself for your education. Focus on self education. There are plenty of resources online you can find to advance your education that are more relevant and applicable to your career interests. Don’t even just stop at your own career interest. Learn about things you’re passionate about. Be a student of life, not just of academia.
14. Build good routines and habits.
Stop wandering aimlessly in your day. Follow a schedule, time block your activities and build good habits! Become an early riser, have an evening shut down ritual, and do your most important tasks in the morning. You will be amazed and fulfilled by how much you get accomplished everyday.
15. Take a job for learning, not just for money.
You’ll always be tempted to find a job that pays more. But remember that learning and building more skills are much more valuable than the pay. The money will sustain you for the short-term. But the experience and skills you learn will last you a lifetime. Once you acquire more valuable skills, the income will follow. In your learning experience, don’t be afraid to ask more questions and talk to professionals in the field. You might even encounter a mentor (I eventually did meet a mentor at my job).
16. Save and invest.
Try to save even just 10% of your income! Yes, you’re a kid but it’s never too early to start saving and investing. In fact, it would have been better to discover investing in index funds and learning about real estate. Another thing that schools don’t teach. So at least get some basic knowledge about finance. Imagine the compound effect of that!
17. Stop caring so much about social media.
Followers, likes and comments. You think that’s what validates your posts and reputation. You equate more followers with more happiness and popularity in life. But it really doesn’t mean anything. It’s all just numbers that give you the illusion of a better life. In fact, it’s taking a toll on your mental energy and confidence. It makes you become blind to the beauties of your own life. The day you start to disconnect from social media, will be the day you feel liberated and happier.
18. Be selective with advice. Let go of that ego.
Sometimes your judgement and opinions are not right. Realize that you will not always be correct. You’re still learning. Don’t be completely close-minded to advice. Be selective with the advice. Constructive advice can hurt your ego but it can be helpful too. Learn to distinguish between good and bad advice.
19. Don’t overwork yourself in school.
Yes, it’s important to get good grades in school but it’s even more important to take care of your mental and physical health. Just try your best in school but don’t neglect your basic needs. Don’t always drown yourself in coffee and pull an all-nighter. Those study methods don’t work for you and for most people. What you really need is rest.
20. Learn more recipes and cook more.
This is a skill which will be prove to be valuable for the long run, especially in quarantine. Ditch those unhealthy instant ramen packages and stop spending so much money eating outside. Learn some healthy recipes online or from your mom.
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